Eagles-Cowboys predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Cowboys predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (6-9) will get a break Sunday, when the Cowboys (13-2) come to the Linc to close out the season. With the No.1 seed already locked up and nothing to play for, Dallas will not play their starters for the entirety of the game.

For the Eagles, the game provides a chance to get a look at some players of their own and close out the season on a high note.

With nothing more than bragging rights and pride on the line, here are our (cough) expert predictions for Eagles-Cowboys. 

Reuben Frank (8-7)
Derrick Gunn and I predict each Eagles' game on Quick Slants every Thursday, and we tend to get a little competitive when it comes to who finishes the year with a better record. Last year, I picked the Eagles to lose to the Falcons in the opener, and Gunner picked them to win. They lost, I had a 1-0 lead and I then proceeded to sit on it the rest of the year. We picked every game the same the rest of the way, and I finished with a one-game win and 2015 Quick Slants Eagles Predition Honors.

This year was tougher. We were tied just about all year, and went into the Giants game last Thursday night tied at 7-7. I knew that to nail down a second straight Quick Slants Prediction Cup I had to be aggressive. So I picked the Eagles to beat the Giants last week. I figured Gunner would pick the playoff-bound Giants over an Eagles team on a five-game losing streak, which makes sense. But I just had a hunch and I went with it because I’d rather lose the prediction contest than finish in a tie. I’m trying to be aggressive here. Just like Doug. So that gave me a one-game lead going into this weekend.

The problem is, how do you predict a game when you don’t even know who’s going to be playing or how long they’ll be playing for. So I did the only sensible thing. I found out who Gunner picked — Eagles over the Cowboys, 24-20 — and just picked the same thing. Because I’d also rather win the prediction contest than finish in a tie. So Eagles 24, Cowboys 20, and we can spend the entire offseason hearing all this nonsense about how the Eagles built up momentum for 2017 the last two weeks of 2016.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

Dave Zangaro (7-8)
The Cowboys don't need this game. At 13-2, they have nothing to play for with the top seed in the NFC locked up. 

We're going to see a lot of Mark Sanchez on Sunday. That's why I'm picking the Eagles to win. 

For the last few weeks, the Eagles' mindset hasn't changed. For the last month, they've been in games that don't matter and have been able to give pretty good effort. They even won a game! They could win two in a row Sunday!

Maybe wins don't carry over from season to season, but the Eagles have to tell themselves that they do, and play like it. 

Eagles 27, Cowboys 19 

Derrick Gunn (7-8)
We've reached the end of a long, frustrating road. The Cowboys come to town with nothing to play for, and it looks like we'll be seeing more of Mark Sanchez at quarterback than Dak Prescott. The Eagles say they want to go out on a winning note, plus some players will be out there trying to prove to Doug Pederson and his coaching staff that they want to be here in 2017.

Expect the Cowboys' starters to be on the sidelines viewing the action way before halftime. It doesn't mean much, but the Birds should end the year on a two-game winning streak. Happy New Year everybody!

Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

Ray Didinger (7-8)
The Cowboys say they want to keep their foot on the gas this week, play all out and keep their momentum going. It sounds good but I have a feeling coach Jason Garrett will look around Sunday, weigh the risks involved and say, "Umm, I don't think so." The Cowboys had a short week (they played Monday night), they have several players banged up, including Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith who will sit this one out, and the only thing that matters, really, is getting ready for the playoffs.

Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott may start, but I doubt they will even break a sweat. The only suspense Sunday will be waiting to see which quarterback comes out of the Dallas bullpen: Will it be Tony Romo or Mark Sanchez? Elliott still has an outside shot at breaking Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, but why push it? Elliott has already carried the ball 322 times, most in the league. He could use a break. If he tweaks a knee or rolls an ankle this week, the Cowboys are toast and they know it.

The Eagles seem determined to finish their season on a winning note and the Cowboys just want to get out of town in one piece.

Eagles 26, Cowboys 14.

Andrew Kulp (8-7)
Don't expect the Cowboys starters to play much, at least not the ones who matter. Taking on Mark Sanchez without the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant shouldn't be a huge challenge for the Eagles' defense, which in turn should create plenty of opportunities for Carson Wentz and the offense. It's basically an exhibition game, and at this stage of the year, a test Wentz will pass with flying colors.

Eagles 34, Cowboys 3

Corey Seidman (8-7)
Because I don't expect the Cowboys' starters to play the entire game, I think the Eagles have a productive defensive game and get the win to finish 7-9 and 6-2 at home.

Unlike the last two seasons, winning in Week 17 wouldn't hurt the Eagles' draft positioning because they have the Vikings' pick, which looks like it'll fall around 15th.

I foresee good games from Wentz and the defense, leading to a second straight divisional win over a team that will still be playing while Wentz is back in the Midwest hunting.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 13

Andy Schwartz (8-7)
For the Cowboys, this is the equivalent of an exhibition game. 

Tony Romo is expected to play, but I can’t imagine he’ll play a lot. Sounds like Mark Sanchez will take the majority of the snaps. And Sanchez likely won’t be the only backup to see significant playing time.

For the Eagles, this game is a chance to continue the rebuild that many forgot about after the hot start and take something positive into the offseason. When the Phillies were 24-17, we didn’t forget that they were rebuilding. And they came crashing back to earth. 

So no one should have been shocked when the Eagles did the same. Yes, DeMarco Murray had a great season. Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso showed they’re not total duds. But all of that doesn’t matter. Maxwell and Alonso helped the Eagles fill the toughest position in football to fill: Quarterback. No quarterback, no Super Bowl.

Forget the Eagles’ record. This season was a success because of Carson Wentz and the experience he gained and the potential he displayed.

As for the record, it should end up at 7-9 — the same as a year ago. But in reality, so much different.

Eagles 27, Cowboys 17

Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

USA Today Images

Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

It won't be a surprise, but Jordan Hicks is going to get a pretty great Christmas present this year. 

He won't find it under his tree either. 

Hicks, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and surgery, will hit another big milestone in his recovery on Dec. 25. That's the day the walking boot comes off of his right foot. 

"Real good present, right?" Hicks said. 

Hicks, 25, tore his right Achilles on the second play from scrimmage against Washington on Oct. 23. Having already torn his left Achilles in college, Hicks knew immediately that his season was over and a long recovery was ahead of him. 

But Hicks has no doubt he'll return to being the same player he was before. He thinks he'll be even better. 

"Oh there's no question about that," Hicks said on Friday, speaking to a group of reporters in the Eagles' locker room for the first time since the injury. "There's no question about that. I'll be fine. I did my left Achilles in college and came back better. I know more, the advancements are better. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be a better player when I come back."

Hicks said the normal recovery time from an Achilles rupture is six to nine months. The six-month mark will be April. He expects to be back for training camp and be completely ready for next season. 

Before suffering this Achilles tear, Hicks had been dealing with an ankle injury on his left leg. Hicks, who has been labeled as an injury-prone player since college, was very proud of playing all 16 games in 2016. So when that ankle injury popped up earlier this season, he tried to play through it. That ankle injury led to a calf injury in his right leg and then the Achilles popped. Hicks thinks overcompensating for the initial injury led to a more serious one. 

"I think a couple weeks could have helped me, but it's always easy to look back," Hicks said. "Hindsight is 20/20. I wouldn't change anything just because it's my personality. It's who I am. All I want to do is be there for my teammates. Every time I step out there, the biggest goal for me is to have my teammates know that I'm their leader and I can be accountable. For me to sit here and say I shouldn't have been out there those weeks, it's hard for me to say that because all I want to do is be out there."

Hicks lasted just a couple plays in that Washington game before his Achilles popped, which put him right back on that road to recovery. And initially, it wasn't easy. Jason Peters joined him in the locker room a quarter later with his own season-ending injury and tried to raise his spirits, but that didn't change the fact that Hicks' season was over.

And for the second time in his three-year career, he knew he would end the season on injured reserve. 

"The grief set in," he said. "For the first week or so, it was tough, but man, there's no time for that. There's no time to sit here and sulk. There's no time to think about what could have been. ... All I'm focusing on is making sure I'm better and ready next year for my guys. That's all it is. For me, it's about accountability."

While Hicks made a rare appearance in the Eagles' locker room during media time on Friday, he's been around the building plenty. He and the Eagles' other injured players have remained involved despite their injuries. In fact, every week, Hicks studies opponent film to see how they handle blitzes. And every Friday, he gets in front of the defense to present it. 

After the injury, Jim Schwartz came to him and asked him to do this. 

"It's easy to isolate yourself in situations like this," Hicks said. "For him to come up to me and ask me to do that was big. I try to keep guys' spirits up and share my perspective." 

For the last month and a half, Hicks has been around the team but has been forced to watch games on TV, which he said is really tough. He hopes that's about to end. He'll be in North Jersey this weekend for the Giants game and hopes he'll be back on the sideline. 

"It's tough," Hicks said. "It's never easy to go through something like this. It tests your patience, this tests your character. You learn a lot through these times because it is so difficult. You have to really grind through some hard times. Put your head down and I think your character is really shown through this."

Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants

Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants

The Eagles will have a new quarterback this weekend, but they might not be able to protect him as well as they hope. 

Starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski will officially be listed as questionable for Sunday's game because of an ankle injury. 

Wiz had to leave the Rams game in the first half and did not return. He missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. 

"We'll see where he's at today," head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday. 

After Wisniewski came out of the Rams game, he was replaced by Chance Warmack, who was then replaced by Isaac Seumalo. 

It sounds like Warmack will have the first chance to play this weekend if Wisniewski can't go. 

"We've worked Chance at that position this week," Pederson said. "Isaac has obviously gotten some reps really at all the positions but that would be the most logical."

Seumalo actually began the season as the team's starting left guard after he won the position in the offseason. From there, Warmack got the first crack at replacing him when he was benched, but Warmack couldn't keep the job, eventually giving way to a rotation before Wisniewski simply took over. The line has been much better since Wiz took over the starting job in Week 3. 

Alshon Jeffery and Steven Means, who both missed Thursday's practice with illnesses, will be back on the practice field on Friday. Both should be fine for this weekend's game. 

The Eagles will practice outside in 28-degree weather on Friday as they prepare for Sunday's outdoor game at MetLife Stadium. 

No word on the condition of the recycling can Jason Kelce kicked inside the bubble after getting cleated on Thursday. At least the outdoor practice will give it another day of rest.